Hello, World: Diaries by Men and Women in American Prisons
In an effort to reach out to prisoners and educate people on both sides of the “wall”, The Anne Frank Center USA, in partnership with PEN American Center, has launched a Prison Diary Program for men and women in American prisons using the Diary of Anne Frank as an inspirational tool. Anne Frank herself was “imprisoned” for two years while in hiding and then was literally imprisoned in concentration camps during the last seven months of her life simply because she was Jewish. This program encourages prisoners to utilize the same means of self-expression—writing a diary—that Anne used to endure her imprisonment while in hiding.
The Anne Frank Center’s diary writing program provides prisoners with a copy of A Diary of a Young Girl, a journal, and a pamphlet on diary writing and Anne Frank’s literary accomplishments. Participants agree to keep their own diaries, writing about their lives and thoughts, and returning their journals to The Anne Frank Center for possible publication on the Internet and in print.
With the global rise in anti-Semitism and the proliferation of Holocaust denial on the Internet, including attacks on the authenticity of her diary, Anne Frank’s message of equality and respect for others is highly relevant to the world today. This is especially true in U.S. prisons, where racism continues to be widespread.
Prisoners throughout history have derived solace and understanding from writing. We believe that The Anne Frank Center’s Prison Diary Program will help improve the lives of imprisoned men and women and provide them with valuable skills and knowledge.
Associated Press Article:
Anne Frank’s diary touches US inmates
(Miami Herald – Miami, Florida, December 6, 2008)
Video Essay: Prisoner Explores ‘Anne Frank’
(The Associated Press, December 8, 2008)